Birch Bay woman killed in Blaine Road crash

Published on Thu, Dec 20, 2007 by ara Nelson

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Birch Bay woman killed in Blaine Road crash

By Tara Nelson

A Birch Bay woman was killed and a Ferndale woman was arrested following a head-on vehicle accident Tuesday that closed a section of Blaine Road for nearly four hours.

Officials suspect drugs were a contributing factor in the accident and have arrested Ferndale resident Elyssa Birman, 28, on suspicion of vehicular homicide.

Birman was driving her Chevy Lumina southbound on Blaine Road near Hickok Road about 8 a.m. when she allegedly tried to illegally pass a pick-up, hitting a northbound 2007 Nissan sedan driven by Yvonne Schaff, 56, of Birch Bay.

Schaff was found dead at the scene.

Washington State Patrol detective Scott Whitman said a small amount of heroin and various drug paraphernalia were recovered from Birman’s vehicle.

Schaff was a former operations supervisor of the Birch Bay branch of The Bank of the Pacific and was currently working for Horizon Bank in Ferndale. She was also known by many for her involvement in the Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce and the Semiahmoo Yacht Club (SYC).

Carol Myers, of Semiahmoo, said she worked with Schaff regularly to raise money for the Semiahmoo Yacht Club’s auctions and fundraisers for the Seascouts youth sailing program and the Plover Ferry.
She said she remembered Schaff as a pleasant individual who was always smiling and cheerful.

“Because of her position at the bank, she knew a lot of people in the business community here and was able to get them involved in fundraisers,” she said. “She was just a sweetheart. It was really unfortunate.”

Birch Bay Chamber of Commerce president Cynthia De Jong Colinares said Schaff was an integral part of the community.
“She served her community in any and every way she could and without hesitation,” she said.

Birman was listed in critical condition at St. Joseph Hospital in Bellingham. Toxicology reports are pending, he said.
Venson Barnhart, 28, of Ferndale, who was a passenger in the Lumina, was uninjured.